When Oprah starts talking about it...
You know it's a serious topic when Oprah makes shows about it and publishes articles about it. What is it exactly?! I'm talking about ... burn out. In the most recent issue of O Magazine, Brene Brown writes a short but sweet article about burn out and how to get it out of your life. My secret hope is that she is writing a new book about this...but until then I am happy she's shining some light on this epidemic. Dr. Brown doesn't highlight the signs like you'd imagine. Things like I outlined in this post here. Instead she spends time writing about mental symptoms of burn out, which I think make for great prevention tips. And I appreciate this take on a topic few talk about until it's too late.
You don't think about burn out, that is until you're burnt out. You'd know it too - total exhaustion, overly emotional, constant worry, depressed. These are just to name a few things you might experience when burnt out. What's so bad about burn out? It's something we're using to prove our self-worth.
Working the most, hustling the fastest, and saying yes to every opportunity that crosses your path are all ways to prove you're doing enough. This is how, as a society, we've decided to measure our value and it's killing us. I don't know that we're going to slow down anytime soon because if we do someone else could surpass us on the way to the top.
I see this all the time in social media, don't you? Social media a constant reminder of how much you're not doing. You're having a great day until you see yet another post on Facebook of someone's super cute, put together kid and you're covered in your kid's morning breakfast and you haven't washed your hair in days. Or you're feeling pretty inspired about your work when you stumble on someone's Pinterest board and their 1 Million followers...no matter how inspired you are, you aren't doing enough compared to so-and-so. The comparison list goes on...
Whether you're even aware of it, anxiety has become a status symbol for worthiness because it means your doing enough. These are just a couple examples of how burn out is growing in our culture - by convincing you that no matter what you do it's simply not enough.
So how do you prevent it? Great question! According to Dr. Brown you need to try on these:
#1 - Be honest with yourself
Know your limits. And be prepared to recognize when you've hit them. For me, I know when my mind feels like mud and my body like lead it's time to take a major break (see #3). If I start to overly compare myself to those I admire then I know I'm approaching self-worth/burn out mode. You are enough, right now, as you are. If you feel good in your life and enjoy your daily experiences, let that be enough. If you don't feel great about your life then I suggest seeing #2 below.
#2 - Set boundaries
Say no. Just say no. Mentally you can say no to the pressure to constantly do and be more. Physically you can say no when there's just too much on your plate. People will take inch by inch until you say that's enough. But only you can determine for yourself where your boundaries are and hold yourself to keeping them there.
#3 - Walk away
Burn out or being on the verge of burn out is a time to give your mind, body, and spirit a big break. I use my self-care toolbox to prevent burn out like exercising during the week, journal writing, and spending time with friends. You can see my full tip list for stress reduction here. But if I'm in full burn out spiral then it takes something bigger - to totally walk away mentally and physically. For example an impromptu beach trip or hike. Something that completely disconnects me from what's putting me over the edge. You might go for a run, take a Yoga class, or take the longest bath of your life. I suggest something that recharges the physical body because it gives you energy and instant mental clarity.
You can change this status symbol and start living with more intentionality. You can stop hustling and accept that you're enough. I have just the thing too that I've been working on since April...but more on that another day. -Andrea